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Porphyria's Lover Summary
Robert Browning

Everything you need to understand or teach Porphyria's Lover by Robert Browning.

  • Porphyria's Lover Summary & Study Guide

Porphyria's Lover Summary

Introduction

"Porphyria's Lover," which first appeared as "Porphyria" in the Monthly Repository in January 1836, is the earliest and most shocking of Robert Browning's dramatic monologues. The speaker—or, perhaps more accurately, thinker—of the poem recounts how he killed his illicit lover, Porphyria, by strangling her with her own hair. He does so to keep her his forever, reliving his story to justify his actions and preserve the moment of her death. The simple language and precisely structured form of the sixty-line poem combined with its asymmetrical rhyming pattern suggest a complex madness concealed beneath the speaker's outwardly calm manner and reasonable tone.

The poem's themes of sex, violence, and madness were of particular interest to Victorian readers, who reveled in sensational tales of horror and depravity despite societal condemnation of all things immoral, but Browning overturns normal expectations of such stories by presenting the sex between Porphyria and her...

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Porphyria's Lover Study Guide

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